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Page 4 of Call of the Cumberlands / by Charles Neville Buck.

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4 THE CALL OF THE CUMBERLANDS unclaimed at the roadside would in themselves challenge curiosity. But in this instance they gave only the prefatory note to a stranger story. Near them lay a tin box, littered with small and unfamiliar-looking tubes of soft metal, all grotesquely twisted and stained, and beside the box was a strangely shaped plaque of wood, smeared with a dozen hues. That this plaque was a painter's sketching palette was a thing which she could not know, since the ways of artists had to do with a world as remote from her own as the life of the moon or stars. It was one of those vague mysteries that made up the wonderful life of "down below." Even the names of such towns as Louisville and Lexington meant nothing definite to this girl who could barely spell out, "The cat caught the rat," in the primer. Yet here beside the box and palette stood a strange jointed tri- pod, and upon it was some sort of sheet. What it all meant, and what was on the other side of the sheet became a matter of keenly alluring interest. Why had these things been left here in such confusion If there was a man about who owned them he would doubtless return to claim them. Possibly he was wandering about the broken bed of the creek, searching for a spring, and that would not take long. No one drank creek water. At any moment he might return and discover her. Such a contingency held untold terrors for her shyness, and yet to turn her back on so interesting a mystery would be insupportable. Accordingly, she crept over, eyes and ears alert, and slipped around to the front of the queer tripod, with all her muscles poised in readiness for flight. A half-rapturous and utterly astonished cry broke

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